Time is an elusive mistress. She is fluid and in constant motion. I can’t stop her. You can’t. Nobody can. Our journeys are intertwined. Often, we find ourselves so caught up with our day-to-day lives that we forget to savour the journey. There is only one journey. Of the earthly sort, that is. So please, please pause and take note.
People pass through our lives — sometimes only for a moment, a season or two, and – if we’re lucky – some remain a constant presence throughout our lives. I am blessed. I have a good number of very special friends who have gone the distance with me. Through ups and downs, through cycles of silence and silliness. I was just on a video call with a pair of them today.
Lest there be any doubt or confusion, I hope they know that I do cherish them. Enough said.
And then there are the people we meet and then never see again. I received news today that gave me an unexpected jolt. A person who I knew back in college – only for a season or two – had died, back in June 2009. She lost her battle with abdominal cancer at the age of 51. Her name was Lorena Gale.
This news made me pause and take note.
You see, sometimes people may have a major impact on our lives, despite knowing them only fleetingly. Lorena and I attended the same college in Montréal — Marianopolis College. That college was a phenomenal academic, social and cultural experience. It was pivotal for me. It was when I started to have a voice of my own, hear it, and revel in it. I decided to take Theatre – with a very brilliant, commanding (mercurial, more like) theatre professor (who didn’t suffer fools gladly) named Victor Garaway. I walked into class, just as the upper class was finishing. That was when I heard a deep, resonating voice. It was a voice that enunciated words with clarity, precision, and perfect tone. It was a voice that was destined for the Stage. I looked up and around, expecting to see a statuesque woman in the prime of her life. I was startled as I looked a few inches down from me (me: 5’4″, she: 4’11½”), only to see a teenager (one year older than myself) with big, expressive eyes, a quirky smile and skin the colour of burnished mahogany. Her laugh, as she said “hi” to me, came right from the diaphragm. It was hearty, strong and confident. It was, as I would soon learn, vintage Lorena Gale.
I knew then that she would be an Actor. I also knew that I would likely not, but that this theatre course would bring me out of my shell and into my own. I was right — on both counts.
Lorena went on to study at the National Theatre School of Canada, as the first black woman ever accepted into the school. Her illustrious acting career spanned well over 100 movies and shows – film and television. She was a director and a playwright. A wife and a mother. A woman with a social conscience. And, most of all, she was a Canadian. From Montréal. And damned proud of it (as I am).
I was always thrilled when I saw her on the big screen or on TV. I’d shout out and say “There’s Lorena!!” I was happy for her and proud of her. And I was deeply saddened today, when I heard that she had passed away.
So, tonight I shall pause and take note of everyone and everything around me.
And, Winky, I lift my glass of St. Emillion to you.
Lorena Gale (1958-2009)
(as Elosha in Battlestar Galactica)
Image (top) via pickthebrain.com.